On Tuesday, April 12th, I had the great fortune of attending an appearance with Bestselling Author and Edgar Award Winner, John Hart. His novels The King of Lies, Down River and The Last Child have created quite a stir in the publishing business. And I admit, I felt especially honored as this talented man visited my small-town library (and I mean small-town–population 6,500), and totally skipped our major cities, Lincoln and Omaha, just an hour away

Now John has gained incredible notoriety, money and world-wide fame for his writing. He’s even entertaining offers from Hollywood, though he’d just received a phone call from George Clooney that even though he liked his new book, he was going to pass on the movie rights. Geesh, what is George thinking?

I found John to be not only articulate, but very genuine. And I marveled at how, even though he has reached his goal of being published with great acclaim, he still holds many of the same fears all writers carry. Whether published or not…he cares mostly about his written word and how his readers respond to it. He does not take his popularity lightly. He knows it is the meat of the story that sells the work. When asked how he comes up with his story ideas, he said feels his main job is to build compelling characters and then turn up the heat. He likes to create characters that are ‘normal people overcoming abnormal circumstances…tough guys who know how to get the job done.’

John described some of his more interesting jobs on his way to becoming a bestseller author. He went through college and then worked on helicopters in Alaska for a summer, before deciding law school was the route for him…though he was secretly writing on the side. Two novels lay in his bottom desk drawer…two terrible novels he said with a grin.

John graduated from law school and was fast on his way to building a career as an attorney when he met his first hard-core criminal and decided he couldn’t cross the moral lines he had created for himself. So he decided to take one more chance and write. His wife was his best/worst critic and so he laid his first chapter on her. After a half an hour, he couldn’t wait any longer and burst into the room for her answer. She told him ‘he would never work another day in his life.’ John laughed and said she was sooo wrong. To support his family and his writing, he went to work as a stockbroker. Four years later, he received his first book offer.

To my joy, John admitted he writes with a ‘grope and hope’ method. Ah, maybe I’m not so abnormal after all. He said he treats his writing as a ‘career’ and has an office downtown where he goes to write. But I would definitely like to have an office like this. A roomy office with two very comfy couches…for his daily naps. One couch is in a very light and open room when he just needs a catnap, and the other couch is in a quiet, darkened room when he needs the longer, refreshing sleep. For inspiration, he takes a daily walk in the woods with his trusty canine friend, making sure he had a small stack of note cards and a pen.

So, why was I so enthused to meet John Hart? Not only was I honored with his visit to our small town and enjoyed his presentation about his writing and his books, but I was given hope. Hope that dreams do come true; that not all writers work from a full fledged outline, or have a degree in English. Hope that there is room out there for the stories I have to tell. I may never reach the fame John has but it proved to me that through hard work and never giving up, I could attain my dream of writing. It’s not easy to be published. It’s been quite a journey for me already as I anticipate my first novel being released in September with MIU Publishing. And I won't stop there. I'm going to continue pushing my way through those pages. For as I can see with John's fame, anything is possible. Maybe I too can someday find a comfy couch in my office and enjoy the daily nap he recommends. grin.

Good luck to you all and happy writing!

C.K. Volnek
Photo courtesy of Abigail Seymour Photography.